Posted by: sulya | 20 December 2009

Birthday 2009: Part I

I celebrated another birthday this past week.  Last year I was coasting on adrenaline and the last day of teaching before the holiday was my birthday so I was surrounded by people and kids and, as a teacher, I was given some truly lovely holiday gifts.  Everyone was warm and it was exactly what I needed.  Later, I went to the staff party and about 30 musicians sang happy birthday to me.  It was beautiful.  Add to that some very new friends (new at the time) had already taken me out earlier that month and gotten me very drunk and the usual loveliness of my family calling me to sing to me and it was a damn fine birthday year.

This year, I saw some friends earlier in the week, I’ll see some before Christmas and it’s all good but the actual day of my birthday the only plan I had was to be with my son, go get a really good piece of cake and watch the move The Iron Giant with him – which he’s never seen so he refused at first and until I explained that it was my birthday and my turn to choose, my special day that it had a really big robot in it and reminded him that he likes robots.

By the even of my birthday, though, he was telling me that I needed to have my own friends to eat cake with.  That he has his own friends on his birthday.  Then, he woke me up at a quarter to five in the morning and told me to rub his leg because he had a cramp.   And then his tummy because it hurt.  And, despite having had a discussion about how what I really wanted him to do when he woke up was give me a big hug and a kiss and say, “Happy Birthday” to me he totally forgot and I had to ask him to do it.  (Not to be too big a bitch or anything, but forgetting stuff like that when someone explains it in close detail and makes a clear request does not come from my half of his DNA…)

Then, when I got out of bed because he couldn’t make the Christmas lights turn on and I was talking him out of watching one of the new channels the cable company is giving us free for a while because though I am a huge fan of retro cartoons, I don’t like him watching all of the commercials, he said this:

“Santa doesn’t know where you live.”

We had a little talk about this until I discovered that he’d thought of it because I don’t have a real tree – just the tree we made together on his bedroom wall from bows.  By the end of it he was all, “Well, I guess we’ll see if he leaves presents here…”  In this very skeptical tone of voice and I was screaming inside because he should feel lucky that Santa EVER knows where he lives…  Christmas the way it’s celebrated in the North American middle classes is a privilege.  Not a right.  And I found myself thinking about taking him to soup kitchens next year – even though I’ve never done that sort of work myself – and then I was feeling shitty and hypocritical and a big scroogey mess because what I really wish is that I could just like this holiday more so that I wouldn’t have to fake it for him as poorly as I do/am…

Then these events all came together in my mind and I realized that my son had basically told me I am such a big loser that I had no friends my own age to celebrate my birthday with and that Santa doesn’t know where I live.

And it was only 8am.  On my birthday.

And I’ve been out of adrenaline for a year, at least.

So I slunk off to the bathroom to cry and hope that the birthday would be on an upswing from that point on because what the hell else could I do?

My cell phone beeped a text message alert at me and it was my sister wishing me happy birthday and who – as it turned out after we exchanged a few more messages – was in an even worse mood than I was.

I called her and in the process of trying to cheer her up I talked myself back on to my feet and headed into the rest of my birthday…………

Stay tuned for Part II




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